Monday, June 20, 2016

Some difficulties of medicine in PNG

There are some things about PNG that make medicine even more difficult that normal, the cost of something is definitely one of them. 

I saw an 18 yo boy today, who we hoped had TB of his brain, but the TB medicine isn't helping him.  He still has frequent headaches, is vomiting and having difficulty walking.  It looks like it is probably a brain tumor, but we can't actually diagnose that without a CT or MRI, which are only able to be done in Port Moresby, an airplane ride away.  Unfortunately, that airplane ride is quite expensive, about 2000K for 2 people to go.  For many people, the cost of the ticket is too much for them to be able to afford.  As I was talking to the family about this, they started telling me that they wouldn't have the money to go to Moresby as they had two other boys who were going to school and they had to pay the school fees for school and didn't think they could also afford to pay to go to Moresby too.  

After being here for 8 yrs, I totally understand this.  I understand that despite wanting to try and do everything they can for their family member, they realize that they can't actually pay for everything they need and so they need to make decisions.  These decisions aren't always about one person, but about the family as a whole, about what is best for everyone, about how can the resources best be used for the most people. 

While it may see foreign to you and I, to many in PNG this is their life, and these decisions happen almost everyday.